MANILA, Philippines (AP) — One supporter wrote a stirring marketing campaign track that has been performed almost 4 million instances on Spotify. Different volunteers are barnstorming Philippine villages, going door-to-door to endorse Vice President Leni Robredo in subsequent week’s presidential election.
The stakes are excessive: If Robredo’s opponent, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., clinches the presidency, as surveys counsel, it is going to mark a shocking about-face for a nation the place hundreds of thousands poured out into the streets in 1986 to pressure out a dictator, Marcos’s father, whose legacy continues to shadow his son.
Followers from various backgrounds — households with grandparents and youngsters, medical doctors, activists, Catholic monks and nuns, TV and film stars, farmers and college students — have joined Robredo’s fiesta-like marketing campaign rallies within the tens of 1000’s. She referred to as the motion a “pink revolution” after the colour worn by her volunteers.
The big crowds, in addition to drone pictures and movies posted on-line by followers, evoke reminiscences of the huge however largely peaceable 1986 “Folks Energy” rebellion that toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos in an Asian democratic milestone that awed the world.
Whereas the rallying name then was to convey again democracy after years of a brutal and corrupt dictatorship, the battle cry of Robredo’s supporters is a promise to convey good and corruption-free governance together with her because the reformist torchbearer.
“We’ve been wanting good governance, trustworthy, hard-working authorities officers, who genuinely take care of the individuals, and he or she’s lastly right here,” stated Nica del Rosario, a 32-year-old musician. “Let’s not waste this opportunity as a result of someone like her doesn’t come fairly often.”
Along with her colleagues, del Rosario wrote and sang two marketing campaign songs for Robredo, together with “Rosas” — Tagalog for roses — a tribute to the opposition chief’s patriotic and humble model of hands-on politics that has turn into an emotional anthem to her followers. The track has been streamed greater than 3.9 million instances on Spotify in simply two months, and has been extensively shared on Fb and YouTube and pushed supporters to tears at rallies.
However Robredo is preventing an uphill electoral battle towards Marcos’s son and namesake, who has topped voter-preference surveys with a seemingly insurmountable lead.
Robredo stays in second place in impartial surveys for the 10-way presidential race, far behind Marcos Jr., with only a week earlier than 67 million registered voters choose the subsequent Philippine chief on Could 9.
Marcos Jr. topped the most recent ballot by Pulse Asia launched on Monday with 56% assist whereas Robredo obtained 23%. The opposite candidates lagged far behind within the April 16-21 survey, which polled 2,400 Filipinos of voting age nationwide with a margin of error of two share factors.
Marcos Jr.’s candidacy has been bolstered by his vice presidential working mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who has remained widespread regardless of his bloody crackdown on unlawful medication and dismal human rights document that has left 1000’s lifeless since 2016.
“There’s nonetheless a chance that folks will change their choice,” Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes stated of voter preferences. It’s additionally laborious to seize the impact of word-of-mouth and house-to-house campaigns, he stated.
Activists who helped oust Marcos 36 years in the past concern Philippine historical past will probably be upended if his son takes over a rustic lengthy seen as an Asian bulwark of democracy. Marcos Jr., a 64-year-old former senator, has defended his father’s legacy and steadfastly refuses to acknowledge or apologize for the widespread abuses and plunder that scarred the Philippines throughout his martial legislation rule. Courts within the U.S. and the Philippines in addition to authorities investigations have supplied indeniable proof of that interval.
“My worst concern is the return of the Marcoses … as a result of we are going to face world condemnation. Folks will probably be asking us, ‘Haven’t you discovered? You stated in ’86 by no means once more and now he’s again. So what are you telling us?’” stated Florencio Abad, a political detainee within the Seventies beneath Marcos who later served in prime authorities posts after the dictator’s downfall and now advises Robredo’s marketing campaign.
Robredo, 57, a former congresswoman and mom of three, is working independently and doesn’t belong to any of the nation’s entrenched political dynasties and rich land-owning clans.
She has been cited for integrity and ease within the poverty- and corruption-plagued Southeast Asian nation, the place two presidents had been accused of plunder and overthrown, together with the elder Marcos, who died in U.S. exile in 1989. A 3rd was detained for almost 4 years on the same allegation however was ultimately cleared.
Like her late husband, a revered politician who died in a aircraft crash in 2012, Robredo’s attraction lies in shunning the trimmings of energy. As a congresswoman, she would frequently journey alone by bus from her province to the capital and again, typically at evening, utilizing the lengthy journey to sleep.
Other than their electoral rivalry, Robredo and Marcos Jr. are on reverse sides of historical past.
As a scholar on the state-run College of the Philippines within the Nineteen Eighties, Robredo joined anti-Marcos protests that culminated within the 1986 democratic rebellion.
In 2016, she narrowly defeated Marcos Jr. in a cliffhanger race for vice chairman of their first electoral faceoff. He waged a years-long unsuccessful authorized battle to invalidate her victory for alleged fraud and nonetheless refuses to concede.
With out the large logistics required for a presidential marketing campaign, Robredo didn’t initially plan to hunt the highest put up however modified her thoughts on the final minute final yr after Marcos Jr. introduced his candidacy and talks to area a single opposition candidate fell aside. The emergence of marketing campaign volunteers was a lifeline, in keeping with her allies.
“She didn’t have any equipment and it was actually the volunteers who had been energizing the complete marketing campaign,” stated Georgina Hernandez, who coordinates nationwide volunteer efforts for Robredo.
Robredo’s military of volunteers, which Hernandez says numbers near 2 million, initially engaged in all kinds of campaigning — from turning roadside partitions into pink-colored murals together with her portrait and mottos to offering free medical and authorized companies to working soup kitchens for the poor.
Most, nonetheless, turned to house-to-house campaigning and organizing star-studded rallies because the election day attracts close to, she stated.
Mary Joan Buan, a volunteer campaigner who additionally joined the 1986 revolt, stated opposing the rise of one other Marcos to the presidency a long time after the dictator was ousted has turn into extra advanced given a well-funded marketing campaign to refurbish the Marcos household picture that started on social media a number of years in the past.
“Many depend on social media now and use platforms like TikTok for info so it’s doubly difficult,” Buan stated whereas going door-to-door for Robredo in a depressed Manila neighborhood. A number of residents bluntly informed her group they had been rooting for BBM, a popularized reference to Marcos Jr. that doesn’t point out his household identify.
College of the Philippines sociologist Randy David stated the uncommon and spontaneous volunteer motion that emerged for Robredo is a crimson flag for potential tyrants.
“Conventional politicians are cautious of the limitless potential of social actions to form electoral outcomes in addition to of their capability to take new types and persist past elections,” David wrote within the Philippine Every day Inquirer, a number one Manila every day. “However it’s autocrats who concern them most — as a result of they virtually all the time carry inside them the seeds of regime change.”
Related Press journalists Joeal Calupitan and Aaron Favila contributed to this report.